Gregory Little might have been accurately pegged as a pie-in-the-sky recruit for UGA. The nation’s No. 2 overall prospect for 2016 took an official visit to UGA for the Alabama game but appeared destined to sign somewhere like Alabama, Auburn, LSU or Ole Miss. UGA was seen as a darkhorse.
It doesn’t sound like that anymore.
“I had a pretty good relationship with Coach (Rob) Sale before the visit but that relationship is even better now,” Little told the AJC’s DawgNation.com on Wednesday. “I got a chance to meet him in person and all the players there and coach (Mark) Richt is there, too. I feel a lot better about all of those guys now.”
The 5-star prospect tweeted out on Sunday night that the trip ranked as one of his “greatest visits.” Lots of recruits come up with the term “felt like family” to describe a visit where they feel welcome.
Little said that about UGA, but he can actually live it. He told the AJC’s DawgNation.com that his brother, nephew, grandfather and a few cousins all live in Athens. He’ll be far away from his immediate family in Texas at UGA, but would still be among family.
“My brother was born there and never left Athens,” Little said.
Does that help UGA’s chances with the Allen High School standout?
“It felt like home because all of my family was there,” he said. “But I guess it doesn’t give it much of an advantage over everybody else. But it can only help to have family around where you go to school.”
Where does UGA stand?
“They are definitely up there,” Little said, who will not enroll early. “They are definitely a team that is on my mind. I commit in a couple of weeks so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Little said if he did eventually choose UGA, that family aspect would be a big reason why.
“I know if I ever had a hard time I can always go talk to them or see them because they are only 10 minutes away from campus,” he said. “That would be one of the biggest things.”
Little’s mother also made the trip. She wants to come back.
“She loved Coach Sale and Coach Richt and she thought it would be a good place to take another visit to because of how good it was,” Little said. “She had a good time.”
The senior said his “Oh wow” moment of the visit came through the discovery of a mutual friend. Little has trained with former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley. Bentley operates a training center in Arizona that’s geared specifically toward offensive linemen.
Little felt Bentley and Sale are of the same mind when it comes to teaching the position.
“Coach Sale has a good relationship with (Bentley) also,” Little said. “He is a very prestigious offensive line coach and UGA does a lot of the same things he does. I know that will improve my game a lot. That kind of gave me a little bit of a shock (that mutual relationship) when I heard about that.”
UGA is graduating two starting tackles. It was made clear Little could play right away.
“The depth chart (at UGA) is all good,” Little said. “Everyone is going to tell you that you are going to start, but it is pretty much all on me to work hard and earn a position.”
The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder visited Auburn the week before his UGA visit.
“The visits were very similar,” he said. “They give you a whole family feel. They make you feel very comfortable and, unfortunately, it did rain (at UGA) but that didn’t affect anything. The (visits) were pretty much even.”
Little plans to commit on Nov. 4. That’s his birthday. He’s a three-year starter and a former basketball player plus a converted tight end. He has a 29-inch vertical leap.Those are all reasons why he’s rated so highly.
“I’m not going to lie — he is the best in the nation” his Allen teammate Levi Onwuzurike said. “I’ve been around a lot of athletes and none of them have been like him. He’s not like the average big ol’ o-lineman. He’s quick and strong. When you put that together, you can make a pretty good tackle from that.”
Little was also very impressed by the fan support at UGA.
“I was very surprised by that,” Little said. “I wouldn’t have stayed in the rain and cheered on the team like that.”
— 74savage (@Thegreglittle) October 6, 2015
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.